William Nylander and Mitch Marner both demoted?

Published January 24, 2022 at 12:41
BY MIKE ARMENTI
In a bit of an odd turn of events, Leafs star winger William Nylander found himself away from his usual spot on the second line with John Tavares in practice on Monday and skating on the third line with Alexander Kerfoot and David Kampf.

At this point it's unclear as to whether this move was made due to Nylander's recent offensive struggles, being limited to just 1 goal and 2 assists over a tough 6-game stretch or if head coach Sheldon Keefe is just looking to spread out his offensive firepower. What's even more unusual is that Mitch Marner appeared to see a demotion as well, despite the fact that he's scored 5 points in his last 3 games.

Keefe has mentioned in the past that Nylander feels that he needs to be pushed, so maybe this move is just Keefe trying to wake Nylander up. The interesting thing is going to be whether Nylander skated on the third line at practice as a wake-up call before he returns to his rightful place on the 2nd line on Wednesday against the Ducks, or whether he actually sees third line minutes in the contest.

The Marner situation is different in that he still carries on in the top-6, skating with John Tavares on line 2, with Ondrej Kase skating in his typical top line RW spot. Matthews and Kase have enjoyed some success playing together this season, so much so that Matthews has openly acknowledged his chemistry with Kase by stating that he's an easy guy to play with.


With Nylander skating on the third line, winger Ilya Mikheyev was elevated to the 2nd line on Monday. Mikheyev has no doubt earned a look in the top six with his excellent two-way play this season.

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